Originally published via DIG Baton Rouge
College can be some of the best years (no matter how long it takes you) of your life. However, those endless nights of stress and fun can also be some of the financially demoralizing times of your life. With the costs of clothes, food, club organization fees and textbooks, you might want to start hitting your grandmother’s bingo hall now or donate plasma to score some extra cash. We, the 2BRokeGuys, have done it and are here to help you navigate the college circuit without completely busting your piggy bank.
When you think of the spoils of college, food will be somewhere close at the top of your list. How can it not? You have dining halls, nearly every fast food chain at your disposal, diners and your mom constantly sending you home with Tupperware of homemade goodness. Besides the concern of getting the “Freshman 15” (that struggle is real), food expenditures can drain your wallet quicker than a typical Taylor Swift relationship lasts, if you’re not on a meal plan. Instead of spending everything on quick eats, go grocery shopping and prep your meals. Grown ups do this all time and for good reason. It makes total sense and saves money. Buy a protein, some veggies and make it stretch for a week. Plus, if you have the room in your kitchen and/or an abundance of food, freeze it and save it for a rainy day (or hurricane party?). When you choose to eat out, Baton Rouge has a few collegiate eateries that won’t leave you completely strapped. Rotolo’s Pizzeria is nice to the college crowd on Wednesdays with their $5 calzones. American Market (adoringly known as AM Mart) has some of the best sandwiches around town and is wonderfully priced. Need a suggestion? Go for the Cajun turkey. You can’t go wrong. Another gem that we love is Uncle E’s Wings & Things. They serve up the largest and most amazingly named food like the chicken finger combo called “Plum Stupid,” and burgers like the “Who Dat” and “Bam Bam.” Best yet, most of these items are reasonably priced and make you scream, “I’m so excited, I’m so excited…I’m so scared.” (Saved by the Bell, anyone? Rounding out our two choices for eating around our local campuses, are Louie’s and Chimes. They might not be the cheapest, but while they do provide some low-cost options, they are special musts that cannot be completely avoided.
“I loved that I could get pepper jack hashbrowns, the Louie’s super club or a chocolate brownie sundae at any point in the day so close to campus at Louie’s,” said Rowan Knight, a recent LSU mass communication graduate.
If all else fails, barter with your buddy who has a meal plan, or stock up on ramen noodles.
For those who did not have to succumb to wearing school uniforms, college is now your opportunity to lose the plaid or khaki and expand your horizons. However, you might find that you miss the ease of uniformity. How about bringing the uniform back, but in your own fashion. Maybe it’s a black shirt and jeans every day? It worked for Steve Jobs and no one hated. Adopt your own look and stick with it; just make sure you utilize the washing machine. If that doesn’t work for you, layout your clothes for the week as well after you do your meal prep. It’s another grown up tactic that has proven to save time and money. If you must shop, before heading out to the mall, go to local thrift shops. It’s not a new idea by now thanks to Macklemore and Ryan Lewis, but the cost effective factor still holds true. Other options include making money on clothes you already have. Plato’s Closet on Siegen will possibly buy your gently used clothes while you do some shopping of your own. If that doesn’t work for you, try liketwice.com or the fashion-sharing app Copious. Both mediums allow you to share your clothes with friends or strangers electronically and give a whole new meaning to the phrase “sharing is caring.”
If you haven’t discovered yet, you will soon learn that textbooks are from the devil. OK, not really, but you feel like you would have to sell your soul to him in order to cover the exorbitant costs of the necessary evil. Before getting sucked into buying books post your orientation, compare prices across the bookstores. Unless the textbook is a brand new edition or penned by your professor (which will happen at one point in your college career), you can usually shop around for competitive pricing. Outside of your campus’ bookstore, other local brick and mortar places include Co-Op Bookstore, Chimes Textbook Exchange, Textbooks Rental and possibly Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million or your local library.
Thanks to Al Gore, the Internet now provides you with more options for textbooks with sites such as Chegg.com, Amazon.com, Half.com, and campusbookrentals.com.
Again, sharing is an option. Asking a classmate to go halfsies on a book is a good way to meet a new friend.
Extra note: Don’t fret if you haven’t purchased all of your books by the first day of classes. There’s a good chance that your professor won’t require reading by the first day. If he/she does, pray hard and quickly look for friends.
Bonus: On-Campus Activities
Most collegiate activities whether academic, athletic or social, are freely accessible with a student ID. The two local major universities offer free access to their collegiate athletics with some exceptions like football. “From courts and fields to pools and balance beams, student-athletes always enjoy additional fans,” said Hunter Geisman, Assistant Manager of Ticket Operations at LSU. “Each of these on-campus events offers a fun, free and unique experience for students.” Being engaged with school events and organizations can make your college experience. Outside of a few groups, participating in these groups don’t require much outside of your time and usually include free food or perks. Sign up today!
Believe it or not, you can stay financially afloat while in college without sacrificing morals or fun. Plenty establishments around town such as your movie theaters, recreational facilities, restaurants and clothing stores, provide discounts to students. Keep your eyes open and don’t be afraid to ask if there is a student discount. Also, understand that several of your colleagues are in the same financial boat waiting for Dave Ramsey to save you from drowning in debt. Group around each other, throw out the lifeline and get creative. Now is the time to explore the city and the extent two which your mind can take you. Just make sure it’s all under legal pretenses.
When in doubt, you can always follow us on our social media channels and website 2brokeguys.org to figure out what’s going on in our incredible city on a broke budget.